What’s the deadliest weapon known to humankind? An atom bomb? A virus? Maybe it depends on how we look at history, or the definition of the “weapon.” But in modern times, in our civilized societies, the statistics always point to the lethality of machines. We hear about the dangers of airplanes all the time, but the truth is that car crashes are immensely more common, no matter what part of the world. For one country, however, there’s gradually less reason to fear cars now. Not because the roads have become dramatically safer, of course, but because guns will soon dwarf cars in numbers of fatalities.
The United States of America. A truly exceptional country. The only industrialized nation that believes guns are fundamental to its culture. The USA boasts the only gun violence record of a third-world country, despite being a first-world nation. From the Economist:
According to data gathered by the Centres for Disease Control (CDC), deaths caused by cars in America are in long-term decline. Improved technology, tougher laws and less driving by young people have all led to safer streets and highways. Deaths by guns, though—the great majority suicides, accidents or domestic violence—have been trending slightly upwards. This year, if the trend continues, they will overtake deaths on the roads.
The Centre for American Progress first spotted last February that the lines would intersect. Now, on its reading, new data to the end of 2012 support the view that guns will surpass cars this year as the leading killer of under 25s. Bloomberg Government has gone further. Its compilation of the CDC data in December concluded that guns would be deadlier for all age groups.
Naturally, with more guns on the streets, law enforcers are on edge (and for very good reason). Therefore, a new statistic showed the insanity of the American gun culture by comparing it to the United Kingdom, where the police rarely even carry firearms. As Daily Kos says:
Australia’s 25th prime minister, John Howard, wrote a piece in the New York Times in 2013 called “I Went After Guns. Obama Can, Too.” In it, he said:
In the end, we won the battle to change gun laws because there was majority support across Australia for banning certain weapons. And today, there is a wide consensus that our 1996 reforms not only reduced the gun-related homicide rate, but also the suicide rate. The Australian Institute of Criminology found that gun-related murders and suicides fell sharply after 1996. The American Law and Economics Review found that our gun buyback scheme cut firearm suicides by 74 percent. In the 18 years before the 1996 reforms, Australia suffered 13 gun massacres — each with more than four victims — causing a total of 102 deaths. There has not been a single massacre in that category since 1996.
I imagine this mic.com piece is entitled the same thing Howard was thinking: “Australia Has Eliminated Gun Massacres By Doing What the U.S. Doesn’t Have the Guts For.”
Regardless of the reasons for why gun control hasn’t been passed yet, it seems clear that if trends continue, guns will surpass cars in numbers of people killed by them in America.
Apparently the only thing worse than guns would be… well, cars that shoot guns.